The Baptism of the Lord – 2021
What a week we’ve all had! What should have been a routine process in the Congress of the United States of America – the certification of the results of the presidential election in the United States – was anything but routine. Challenges to state totals by representatives of other states. Rioters invading the capital building. Law-makers taken to safety and in hiding for their own protection. A president who encouraged the rioters. Senators and Representatives being accosted and booed when they are in public. Is there any good news? Where can we find hope? Lots of questions rise in everyone’s minds.
This Sunday, as a new week begins, we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Jesus was a good man, a carpenter, son of a carpenter, in a small town in Galilee. He lived in a conquered land. All knew the power of Rome and of the soldiers who enforced order. Those who wanted to live to an old age didn’t make waves or draw attention to themselves. But a prophet, who happened to be Jesus’ cousin, was baptizing people at the Jordan River – not too far away. John was telling people that the long-awaited Messiah was near, maybe already in their midst. It was time to get ready – to turn from their sins and welcome God’s Anointed One.
Jesus went to see for himself what was happening. He felt a call to enter into the water and become closer to the Lord God. As he entered the water and was plunged into it (to be baptized means to be plunged into ….) he experienced the coming of the God’s Holy Spirit, gently filling his heart and telling him, “You are my beloved son: with you I am well pleased.” He left the river with much to contemplate – a changed man, with a new awareness of who he was and who he was called to be. He went to the desert to pray and sort things out. When he returned, he began sharing what he had learned of God’s love and plan for humanity. The mission had begun.
Listen carefully to those words spoken to Jesus at his baptism. Our Father speaks those words to each of us as well. We who have been plunged into the life of God at our baptism and anointed with the Holy Spirit in Confirmation, are God’s beloved children.
We are called to the water. We are offered all we need for life, given freely by God. We are offered forgiveness when we mess up. We are promised life.
May we hold fast to this promise as we reach out to those with whom we agree and those with whom we disagree. Respect for each other as human beings, compassion, sharing of visions for the future, rejection of violence, and work for reconciliation are now our calling. We are children of one Father, brothers and sisters of the Lord, anointed by God’s Spirit. With Jesus we go forth into our world to bring words of peace, justice, and healing in times of great distress. Can we be peacemakers? Can healing occur? Will justice become a reality for all. Will we be part of the solution or part of the problem?
On this day, we pray for courage, wisdom, and strength to listen to each other and seek common ground. Our country and our world have need of these gifts.